I keep a weblog like it's still the 90s. For commentary and dissent please visit jontaylor.ca, or various other purveyors of thought online.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why do so many terrorists have engineering degrees?

Why do so many terrorists have engineering degrees? - By Benjamin Popper - Slate Magazine: "Engineering is not a profession most people associate with religion. The concrete trade of buildings and bridges seems grounded in the secular principles of science. But the failed attack this Christmas by mechanical engineer Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a reminder that the combination has a long history of producing violent radicals."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is Food the New Sex?

Hoover Institution - Policy Review - Is Food the New Sex?: "One more critical link between the appetites for sex and food is this: Both, if pursued without regard to consequence, can prove ruinous not only to oneself, but also to other people, and even to society itself. No doubt for that reason, both appetites have historically been subject in all civilizations to rules both formal and informal. Thus the potentially destructive forces of sex — disease, disorder, sexual aggression, sexual jealousy, and what used to be called “home-wrecking” — have been ameliorated in every recorded society by legal, social, and religious conventions, primarily stigma and punishment. Similarly, all societies have developed rules and rituals governing food in part to avoid the destructiveness of free-for-alls over scarce necessities. And while food rules may not always have been as stringent as sex rules, they have nevertheless been stringent as needed. Such is the meaning, for example, of being hanged for stealing a loaf of bread in the marketplace, or keel-hauled for plundering rations on a ship."

EPA Regulations Cause Drought in California

EPA Regulations Cause Drought in California - WSJ.com: "The result has already been devastating for the state's farm economy. In the inland areas affected by the court-ordered water restrictions, the jobless rate has hit 14.3%, with some farming towns like Mendota seeing unemployment numbers near 40%. Statewide, the rate reached 11.6% in July, higher than it has been in 30 years. In August, 50 mayors from the San Joaquin Valley signed a letter asking President Obama to observe the impact of the draconian water rules firsthand."

What % Of 7-Footers Play Basketball?

VDARE.com: Blog Articles - What % Of 7-Footers Play Basketball?: "Presumably, by “best chess player” in the world, Cowen means the most naturally talented. That raises the question of whether “overwhelming passion for the game” should be considered a talent or not. If somebody has the natural ability to be the best but lacks the urge to practice, they won’t be a top chess player.

Generally speaking, the people who claw their way to the top of something are fanatics about it. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were crazy about swinging golf clubs before their second birthdays."

Why are modern scientists so dull?

Medical Hypotheses: Why are modern scientists so dull?

Monday, December 28, 2009

The "blueprints" of Monsieur Eiffel

The "blueprints" of Monsieur Eiffel

EDITORIAL: Biased reporting on Climategate

EDITORIAL: Biased reporting on Climategate - Washington Times: "There's a big difference between saying that there isn't sufficient evidence to determine if falsification of data occurred - and that there should be an investigation - and saying, as AP did: 'Science not faked.'"

John Mackey and Whole Foods

John Mackey and Whole Foods : The New Yorker: "A year ago, Mackey came across a book called “The Engine 2 Diet,” by an Austin, Texas, firefighter and former professional triathlete named Rip Esselstyn. Basically, you eat plants: you are a rabbit with a skillet. Mackey had been a vegetarian for more than thirty years, and a vegan for five, but the Engine 2 book, among others, helped get him to give up vegetable oils, sugar, and pretty much anything processed. He lost fifteen pounds."

Awkward Timing for a Book by Woods

Awkward Timing for a Book by Woods - NYTimes.com: "In the audio book, Mr. Woods shares the “psychological practices he uses daily to keep his game in top shape and help him transcend all the ups and downs of golf,” according to a description in Hachette Audio’s spring-summer 2010 catalog, which was mailed recently to bookstores and journalists."

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Canucks in Canuckville

small dead animals: The Canucks In Canuckville: "We’ll make them join unions; we’ll meddle with wages,
We’ll subsidize books with Canadian pages
We’ll give them a Charter with rights no one knows,
With rulings from judges that no voter chose."

Conservatism Is Dead

Conservatism Is Dead | The New Republic: "Today, the situation is much bleaker. After George W. Bush's two terms, conservatives must reckon with the consequences of a presidency that failed, in large part, because of its fervent commitment to movement ideology: the aggressively unilateralist foreign policy; the blind faith in a deregulated, Wall Street-centric market; the harshly punitive 'culture war' waged against liberal 'elites.' That these precepts should have found their final, hapless defender in John McCain, who had resisted them for most of his long career, only confirms that movement doctrine retains an inflexible and suffocating grip on the GOP."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

American's Crazed Corn Habit

American's Crazed Corn Habit - Justin Rohrlich - Mises Institute: "According to a recent Congressional Budget Office report, the increased use of ethanol is responsible for a rise in food prices of approximately 10 to 15 percent.


We're turning corn into fuel — a highly inefficient one, at that — instead of food."

B.C. only province with rising greenhouse gases

CBC News - British Columbia - B.C. only province with rising greenhouse gases

U.S. cap and trade looks out of reach in 2010

U.S. cap and trade looks out of reach in 2010 | Green Tech - CNET News: "But the Copenhagen Accord did not include emissions targets. This will make it difficult for lawmakers to argue that the United States should have a cap while China, the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases, and other big polluters are not legally required to act on climate."

Questions over business deals of UN climate change guru Dr Rajendra Pachauri

Questions over business deals of UN climate change guru Dr Rajendra Pachauri - Telegraph: "Although Dr Pachauri is often presented as a scientist (he was even once described by the BBC as “the world’s top climate scientist”), as a former railway engineer with a PhD in economics he has no qualifications in climate science at all."

The Worst-Run Big City in the U.S.

San Francisco News - The Worst-Run Big City in the U.S. - page 1: "Despite its good intentions, San Francisco is not leading the country in gay marriage. Despite its good intentions, it is not stopping wars. Despite its spending more money per capita on homelessness than any comparable city, its homeless problem is worse than any comparable city's."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Green shoppers more likely to cheat

Green shoppers more likely to cheat: "If buying an organic apple instead of one caked in pesticides eases your conscience, there's a good chance that your next ethical decision might not be a good one.

According to the results of a University of Toronto study, participants who assigned more social value to 'green' shopping were more likely to cheat and steal in subsequent tests than those with less stringent shopping habits.

The study, to be published in the new year in the journal Psychological Science, is the latest in a growing field of research called 'moral licensing.'"

Friday, December 18, 2009

“We Don’t Know” is better than “Global Warming” “Global Cooling” or “They are Wrong”

“We Don’t Know” is better than “Global Warming” “Global Cooling” or “They are Wrong” - Symon Sez: "“Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects.”"

For your information…

For your information…: "That being said Ted..."

Comments in regards to how I see climate science right now.

Observations: Draft text of new "Copenhagen Accord"

Observations: Draft text of new "Copenhagen Accord": "12. We call for a review of this Accord and its implementation to be completed by 2016, including in light of the Convention’s ultimate objective. This review would include consideration of strengthening the long-tenn(sic) goal to limit the increase in global average temperature to 1.5 degrees."

Orchestra says no to being mimed at Games

Orchestra says no to being mimed at Games: "The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra refused an invitation to record music for the Vancouver 2010 opening ceremonies because the organizing committee, Vanoc, wanted other musicians to 'mime' the live performance."

Very dumb indeed.

Michael E. Mann - E-mail furor doesn't alter evidence for climate change

Michael E. Mann - E-mail furor doesn't alter evidence for climate change - washingtonpost.com

What Dr. Mann doesn't understand is that it's not the furor which changes things but the emails themselves. Funny how Sarah Palin's OpEd is his best defense.

When the mobs rule

When the mobs rule: "If the red greens were marching in support of the program, or making orderly objections on details, or if there was chaos in the streets because the conference had been cancelled, it would make some kind of sense. But rioting in their moment of triumph raises the crucial question: 'Why can't these people make their case without breaking the law?'"

A page out of Harper’s playbook

A page out of Harper’s playbook - Paul Wells - Macleans.ca: "Very little that has happened since could have been predicted. By autumn, Harper was, briefly, a sort of media darling, popping up on the stage of the National Arts Centre to serenade the audience while his Conservatives flirted with levels of public support that would, if sustained, ensure them a majority in the next election. Ignatieff’s Liberals sank as low as 22 per cent in internal tracking polls—comfortably lower than Stockwell Day’s Canadian Alliance scored in the 2000 general election. Ignatieff replaced just about all of his senior advisers. The Conservative lead has since shrunk, but only a little. The election that reared its head a couple of times during the year seems distant today."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pressure drop causing wind turbine bat deaths, say Calgary researchers

CBC News - Technology & Science - Pressure drop causing wind turbine bat deaths, say Calgary researchers: "Hundreds of bats found dead each year around wind turbines have suffered internal trauma from a sudden drop in air pressure at the turbine blades, according to new research to be published this week."

Geologist stands trial for triggering earthquakes in Switzerland

Geologist stands trial for triggering earthquakes in Switzerland - Telegraph: "Markus Haering, who designed the geothermal project, rejected allegations that he deliberately damaged properties and said local people knew the risks.

The deep drilling underground caused a series of earthquakes in 2006, including one of 3.4 magnitude, rattling residents of the north-western city of Basel. Geopower Basel, the project leader, has already paid around 9 million Swiss francs ($SF5.3 million) in compensation for cracked walls and other damage on properties near the experiment."

Gwynne Dyer: Tony Blair, the young war criminal

Gwynne Dyer: Tony Blair, the young war criminal | Vancouver, Canada | Straight.com: "That may seem a bit harsh, for never has an alleged war criminal seemed more sincere, more open, even more innocent. As he said about his 2003 decision to involve Britain in the American invasion of Iraq in his resignation speech four years later: “Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right.” But EVERYBODY does what they think is right.

They may mean pragmatically right, or morally right, or even ideologically right, but one way or another people will find ways to justify their actions to themselves: even Pol Pot believed that his actions were justified. When people’s choices lead to the deaths of others, they must eventually be judged by more objective criteria than mere sincerity. That is now happening to Tony Blair.

Yet another public inquiry in Britain is now looking into the origins and consequences of Blair’s decision to attack Iraq, but it will not find him guilty of anything. It is what Conservative Party leader David Cameron called “an establishment stitch-up.”"

The Other Nobel Controversy

The Other Nobel Controversy | Foreign Policy

A sick Liberal Party, and the people who protect it

A sick Liberal Party, and the people who protect it: "There is no admission of the root cause of the problem. The screening process failed because the screeners, the web page developers, the system administrators, and everyone else involved, simply did not see what was wrong with the image of Stephen Harper being murdered.

These people are thriving within the Liberal Party. That is sick beyond words."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Climategate: the ailing 'mainstream' media are committing suicide by ignoring the scoop of the century

Climategate: the ailing 'mainstream' media are committing suicide by ignoring the scoop of the century – Telegraph Blogs: "Climategate is a global household name. No cat has ever emancipated itself more completely from the bag. It is a world-wide scandal – thanks to the internet. Yet, as its ramifications proliferate and dominoes continue to fall, the most repeatedly asked question online is: how can the mainstream media ignore this? Well, we know the answer to that: the MSM are in thrall to the leftist consensus. End of story. But let me pose a follow-up question that may be becoming more imminently relevant."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Beyond debate?

Times Higher Education - Beyond debate?: "Is belief in global-warming science another example of the 'madness of crowds'? That strange but powerful social phenomenon, first described by Charles Mackay in 1841, turns a widely shared prejudice into an irresistible 'authority'. Could it indeed represent the final triumph of irrationality? After all, how rational is it to pass laws banning one kind of light bulb (and insisting on their replacement by ones filled with poisonous mercury vapour) in order to 'save electricity', while ploughing money into schemes to run cars on ... electricity? How rational is it to pay the Russians once for fossil fuels, and a second time for permission (via carbon credits) to burn them (see box page 36)? And how rational is it to suppose that the effects of increased CO2 in the atmosphere take between 200 and 1,000 years to be felt, but that solutions can take effect almost instantaneously?"

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 10th | Flight of the Conchords

December 10th | Flight of the Conchords: "While the characters Bret and Jemaine will no longer be around, the real Bret and Jemaine will continue to exist."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Canada's Nisga'a: Home-owning nation

Canada's Nisga'a: Home-owning nation | The Economist: "THE Amerindian peoples of Canada, where they are known as First Nations, like those in Bolivia (see article), have traditionally held land in common. So the decision by the Nisga’a First Nation of north-western British Columbia to grant private property rights to its members, insignificant though it might seem to most Canadians, has potentially revolutionary implications."

Innovation: The military-consumer complex

Innovation: The military-consumer complex | The Economist: "Military technology used to filter down to consumers. Now it’s going the other way"

Sniping and Squatting

Sniping and Squatting - Cheap Talk: "We found that these two effects almost exactly canceled each other out for auctions of DVDs. We expect that this would be true for similar objects that are homogeneous and sold in many simultaneous auctions. So the next time you are bidding in such an auction, don’t think too hard and just bid your value."

Take This Paradigm and Shove It

Take This Paradigm and Shove It | Psychology Today

Editorial: Losing the right to be Right

Editorial: Losing the right to be Right - The Jewish Star: "All of this truly makes us wonder where the Right wing has gone. Leaders like Sarah Palin, Joe Wilson, and Dick Cheney are more embarrassing than inspiring. The conservative movement, as Sam Tanenhaus writes in The New Republic, and like punk rock before it, is dead. This Chanukah we know what we want: a rebirth.
We want the right to be Right."

Asking For Orange Juice On American Airlines May Violate Federal Law

Asking For Orange Juice On American Airlines May Violate Federal Law - The Consumerist: "The real terrorists can be found flying first class, drinking orange juice."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

'Small wind' market to double by 2013, study says | Green Tech - CNET News

'Small wind' market to double by 2013, study says | Green Tech - CNET News: "The niche industry of small wind turbines, which saw $165 million in revenue in 2008 and $203 million in 2009, will grow to $412 million by 2013, according to Pike's 'Small Wind Power' report."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cadman will break Tory ranks, vote against HST

Cadman will break Tory ranks, vote against HST: "Dona Cadman will cast her vote against the controversial harmonized sales tax."

Primate study halted by US university

Primate study halted by US university: Scientific American: "Administrators at Oklahoma State University (OSU) in Stillwater have abruptly cancelled an anthrax vaccine study that would have killed dozens of baboons.

The project, funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and led by Shinichiro Kurosawa of Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts, had been approved by the OSU animal-care committee in September and was awaiting review by the biosafety committee when OSU president Burns Hargis vetoed it in October, calling the study 'controversial.'"

Extinction Countdown: Indonesia's Palm oil economy drives human fortunes--And orangutan misfortunes

Extinction Countdown: Indonesia's Palm oil economy drives human fortunes--And orangutan misfortunes: "The net worth of Indonesia's 40 richest men has doubled to $42 billion in the past year, driven in no small part by the growing demand for palm oil, according to Forbes magazine's annual examination of the country's top richest people.

Global demand for palm oil is now more than 40 million tons per year, making it 'central to the economies of Malaysia and Indonesia,' according to the Jakarta Globe."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Diplomacy That Will Live in Infamy

Op-Ed Contributor - Diplomacy That Will Live in Infamy - NYTimes.com: "In a secret presidential cable to Tokyo, in July 1905, Roosevelt approved the Japanese annexation of Korea and agreed to an “understanding or alliance” among Japan, the United States and Britain “as if the United States were under treaty obligations.” The “as if” was key: Congress was much less interested in North Asia than Roosevelt was, so he came to his agreement with Japan in secret, an unconstitutional act.

To signal his commitment to Tokyo, Roosevelt cut off relations with Korea, turned the American legation in Seoul over to the Japanese military and deleted the word “Korea” from the State Department’s Record of Foreign Relations and placed it under the heading of “Japan.”"

Kyoto accord was dumb 12 years ago -- and it's dumb now

Kyoto accord was dumb 12 years ago -- and it's dumb now | John Snobelen | Columnists | Comment | Toronto Sun: "The folks who created the protocol not only wanted to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, they also wanted to create a new global currency and a new economic world order. The protocol didn't limit itself to environmental standards. It sought to address social change by punishing the rich and helping the poor.

Think of it as the Environmental Robin Hood Protocol.

The problem with this sort of Robin Hood thinking, as Margaret Thatcher once observed, is sooner or later you run out of rich people to rob."

Myanmar Motion Picture Academy Awards

Myanmar Motion Picture Academy Awards - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "The significance of the awards has fluctuated along with the health of Burmese cinema. The number of eligible film entries each year has declined dramatically since the 1980s."

Good Samaritan stabbed repeatedly

CBC News - British Columbia - Good Samaritan stabbed repeatedly

"Hey Jon, want to go clubbing on Granville?"
"I don't see why not!"

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The enduring influence of architect Christopher Alexander, author of A Pattern Language.

The enduring influence of architect Christopher Alexander, author of A Pattern Language. - By Witold Rybczynski - Slate Magazine: "If Alexander often irritates his critics, it is in part because he is so obviously gifted. Born in Vienna in 1936, he was raised in England; won a prestigious scholarship to Cambridge, where he studied architecture and mathematics; and went on to receive Harvard's first architecture Ph.D. Not yet 30, he published his doctoral thesis as book, on the strength of which he received the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, the first ever awarded for research."

Friday, December 4, 2009

My real name is David Jones

Letters of Note: My real name is David Jones: "I hope one day to get to America. My manager tells me lots about it as he has been there many times with other acts he manages."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Universal or selective human rights?

Stephen Taylor – a blog on Canadian politics - Universal or selective human rights?: "Conservatives are usually criticized for dealing with issues in absolutes, in rights and wrongs, in black and white. Meanwhile Liberals sometimes suffer a charge of moral relativism from their opponents as they are accused of dealing in shades of grey. On their assessment of a nascent democracy suffering in horrific ravages of war, a country attempting to cast off ages of illiberalism and lawlessness, it is evident that Liberals have little sympathy for the harsh realities of an imperfect situation."

The Bottle Genie

small dead animals: The Bottle Genie: "I don't think my friends in traditional news gathering truly appreciate what it is they've done. I don't believe they fully comprehend how gravely they have injured themselves, and how they're driving home the razor into an industry already struggling for survival with abbreviated, dismissive, misleading reports and 'denier' and 'conspiracy nut' slurs.

The bloggers tried to warn them. The opinion columnists tried to warn them, the talk hosts tried to warn them. Their readers, viewers and listeners tried to warn them.

The news media perfected the business of bombshells. They wind them up, drop them, film the explosion, and move on.

They're just learning now that we're in the business of bottle genies."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nick Carr: The Secret Bowling Alley

Nick Carr: The Secret Bowling Alley

Susan Boyle sets US chart record

BBC News - Susan Boyle sets US chart record: "It is second only to Snoop Dogg's debut Doggystyle, which sold 803,000 in its first week in 1993."

Critic of ‘Climate Oligarchy’ Defends Case for CO2-Driven Warming

Critic of ‘Climate Oligarchy’ Defends Case for CO2-Driven Warming - Dot Earth Blog - NYTimes.com: "Mr Revkin,

The reason why people around the world have any concern whatsoever about AGW is because of how much suffering it would cause. These emails make it seem like the climate scientists were deliberately obfuscating the data to make their case seem more important... diverting much needed funds from elsewhere. How much of the $90Billion in climate research dollars could have gone to help real human suffering?

Your apologetics for the climate frauds will leave you in the trash bin on the wrong side of history.

Science does not alter data to accommodate preconceived notions, unless of course it's political science.



The Ascent, and Fall, of Dubai

The Ascent, and Fall, of Dubai - Economix Blog - NYTimes.com: "Great cities have long been built by great gamblers, and Dubai’s sheik may well be the second greatest city-builder — after the Chinese government — of our age. Many of those gamblers have ended up bankrupt, but their structural legacies remain, providing the space that connects humanity and facilitates the success of our urban world.

Even if Dubai’s real estate prices continue to drop, which is certainly quite possible, there will remain a strong incentive to fill its buildings. If the structures remain occupied, then Dubai, and its sheik’s dream of a great metropolis, will survive."

Let's go to the pub.

small dead animals: "Let's go to the pub.": "The problem is not left/right thinking its lack of life experience. When you are raised in a modern urban environment where everything is artificial you come to understand your world as being an artificial construct that is easy to manipulate. Ask an old farmer who is delivering a calf at -30 what he thinks of AGW warming and you will get a snort of derision. As a urban metrosexual as he steps from his pre-warmed car into his underground parking stall on his way to his air conditioned office what he thinks of AGW and he will tell you not only is it true but its the farmer's fault for raising cattle."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Nullius in Verba

Nullius in Verba - WSJ.com: "No one compelled Thomas Jefferson to swear 'eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man.' If the recent history of science has anything to teach, it is that there is no place in a free society for a self-appointed Central Committee of Scientific Truth. Until the Royal Society comes to grips with the Enlightenment, its baroque motto deserves a rest."

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